Initiative to give jua kali artisans certificates will be fair, says agency

Jua Kali artisans in Naivasha conduct their business. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

The Kenya National Qualification Framework (KNQA) is asking skilled but uncertified individuals to register for the programme to award them college certificates.

The agency has also issued guidelines on how the process will be conducted to ensure fairness.

The Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) initiative is offering a lifeline to hundreds of thousands of people who have acquired expertise through work experience, volunteering and self-directed learning.

KNQA Director-General Alice Kande, said the programme, set to roll out next month, will not only provide a pathway to higher education but also enable skilled jua kali artisans, plumbers and tailors, among others, to secure formal employment.

"RPL rests on the assumption that some equivalency between prior learning and academic learning is possible," said Dr Kande.

This means that regardless of how or where individuals acquired their skills, if they meet the set requirements, they will be eligible for admission to formal education programmes.

Certificates awarded through RPL will be at par with those earned through formal education.

"The certificates will not be labeled RPL. If you are assessed by the University of Nairobi, you will get a certificate with the UoN logo," said Stanley Maindi, the director of technical service.

To ensure credibility and fairness, RPL candidates will be evaluated by a panel of three experts; an industry specialist, a practitioner, and a prior learning assessor.

"Not just anyone will be assessing RPL candidates; even qualified academicians will need specialised training and expertise," Maindi said.

The assessment process will offer flexibility, allowing candidates to choose between physical and online assessments, including practical, oral and theoretical tests.

Notably, RPL offers a more cost-effective route to skill acquisition and certification compared to traditional classroom-based learning.

Dr Kande said the programme will bridge educational gaps and promote exclusivity within the workforce.

She expressed hope that the programme will eventually extend to universities, enabling the issuance of degrees, masters and PhDs under RPL. A diploma at national polytechnics is the highest certificate that will be offered in the current arrangement.

The assessors will gauge a candidate's level of competency to determine with certificate to award, said Kande.

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